CHURCH IS NOT A BUILDING – CHURCH IS THE PEOPLE OF GOD
WE WILL CONTINUE TO DO CHURCH – WE WILL CONTINUE TO BE CHURCH
2020 VISION – WE NEED TO SEE THINGS CLEARLY – FROM GOD’S POINT OF VIEW
A WAKE-UP CALL FOR THE WORLD
In “The Lord of the Rings” – one of my favourite books and written by a Christian, and so full of Christian imagery – one of the central characters is the king of a nation of horse-riding warriors called King Theoden of Rohan. In the spread of evil from the land of Mordor, Theoden had been entranced by a wicked counsellor who was a spy from the evil one. His entrancement meant that he was never truly awake – he was in a sleep-full stupor which meant that although he appeared awake he became totally unable to rule the land which increasingly fell under the shadow and control of the evil one – Sauron. His subjects looked to him for help but he could give none – for he was asleep and unaware of what was happening to the land. It was only the arrival of Gandalf who, empowered by good and right commanded the evil to leave Theoden and woke him up. And none too soon! For the land was being literally invaded by evil and Theoden and his warriors were needed in the fight to overcome evil with good.
There is a growing consensus amongst God’s people that the world has fallen asleep – entranced and deceived by the evil one, the devil, and that, whatever the cause of this current crisis, God is now giving us all – His church and all the people of the world – a much-needed wake-up call.
‘Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ (Ephesians 5: 14)
This is a wake-up call for ALL people – for the “Lost”, for the Church, for you, and for me.
WAKE-UP: Life is not as certain as we thought it was and mortality hangs by a thread for all of us – none of us know whether we are going to get the virus or not get the virus; none of us know whether we will live or we will die if we do get the virus. It is a wake-up call to reassess our lives totally.
WAKE-UP: there must be more to life than this – we must wake-up and focus on eternal things
WAKE-UP: this is a time to re-assess what I am doing. Is it REALLY important? Am I doing the work that I really should be doing? Is my use of time really right? Am I spending too much time “playing” and relaxing and seeking pleasure? And does any of it really MEAN anything anymore?
WAKE-UP: our petty arguments, our selfishness, our lusts and our laziness – are they REALLY worth it? (compare them with the acts of kindness that are being shown at this time)
WAKE-UP: we all need to wake-up and realise that we need to repent. And what does this mean? It means that we need to wake-up – all of us – and recognise that we have been living our lives in our own way, doing our own thing, relying on ourselves, seeking after the things that we want – pleasure, power, success, fame, satisfaction. To repent is to realise that this is all selfishness and that we need to turn right around and go a different way – the way that God is leading us, the way that God is calling us to go. The “Lost” – those who don’t know God at the moment – need to repent and follow Him. The church needs to “repent” and ask forgiveness and choose this day to be more faithful to Him.
WAKE-UP AND REPENT:
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
We “repent” when we turn from our wicked ways – our selfish ways – and “seek” His “face” instead.
We have all sinned in this way.
Only then will He “heal their land”.
We need to pray more – not a “shopping list” praying (which is selfish) but a “turning to God and worshipping Him” kind of praying.
We need to “humble” ourselves as part of this repentance. And what does this mean???
WAKE-UP AND HUMBLE YOURSELVES:
How do we understand this? Let us look at the story of Naaman as told in 2 Kings 5 to understand this (you will need to read this chapter – from verse 1 to verse 19:
- Naaman – a mighty warrior, powerful, famous, self-sufficient…but he was going to die (leprosy would, in those days, inevitably lead to death) – and there was nothing he could do about it – none of his strength and ability and position and wealth could help him at all. We are the same – we like to feel strong in ourselves, self-sufficient – “I work to earn the money…I know what I am doing…I can deal with it”. But we can’t – in fact when it comes to a time such as this we must realise that we are quite helpless in ourselves and that the world is suffering a pandemic that we can ourselves do nothing about.
- He needed to humble himself – which for him meant washing in the dirty Jordan river – in order for God to heal him; it meant knowing that he could not heal himself; it meant passing the control of his life over to God.
- For us – humbling ourselves is the same. It means realising that we can’t survive this crisis in our own strength and we should not be trying to live in our own strength any more. We need to do what we need to do – from self-isolating to submitting to God – and then trust in Him to do the rest
- Humbling ourselves literally means that we must now bow down and “let go and let God”, submit to His will for our lives and put our trust in the One who knows what is best for us
- Humbling ourselves means realising that we CAN’T “do it” (life) on our own, that we have sinned by believing we could “do it” on our own, and that we need to repent and turn back to Him and ask Him to again be our LORD and our KING as well as our LOVING FATHER.
WAKE-UP AND TURN BACK TO GOD – AND BE WITH GOD FROM NOW ON: Naaman, at the end of this part of his story had woken-up, realised not only his total reliance on God, but also the reality of the living God. He knew he had to have God in his life from now on wherever he was – so he literally asked to take back soil that he would keep with him at all times. We need to wake-up and ensure that from this day onwards we take God with us in all things and at all times.
It is time to repent and humble ourselves and seek His face – may this wake-up call bring us to a place of relationship with God that we have never been before.
May those who do not yet follow Jesus WAKE-UP at this time and find Him.
May those who are His disciples recognise that in this time of great trouble we need to WAKE-UP and “watch” and “pray” and renew our commitment to Him. Be challenged by the words of Jesus to His disciples at the time of greatest crisis (Mark 14: 32-38)
32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ he said to them. ‘Stay here and keep watch.’
35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’
37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Simon,’ he said to Peter, ‘are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’
It is time to WAKE-UP!
APPENDIX 1 – 2 KINGS 5: 1-19
5 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.[a]
2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, ‘If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.’
4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 ‘By all means, go,’ the king of Aram replied. ‘I will send a letter to the king of Israel.’ So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents[b] of silver, six thousand shekels[c] of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: ‘With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.’
7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, ‘Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!’
8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: ‘Why have you torn your robes? Make the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.’ 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, ‘Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.’
11 But Naaman went away angry and said, ‘I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?’ So he turned and went off in a rage.
13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, “Wash and be cleansed”!’ 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, ‘Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.’
16 The prophet answered, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.’ And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.
17 ‘If you will not,’ said Naaman, ‘please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord. 18 But may the Lord forgive your servant for this one thing: when my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I have to bow there also – when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this.’
19 ‘Go in peace,’ Elisha said.